For more than a century, the Arizona State Fair has been a gathering place for residents from across the state — and an eagerly anticipated event that marks the beginning of the fall season in Arizona. Then, along came 2020.
Yesterday, the Arizona Exposition & State Fair Board announced its decision to postpone the 2020 Arizona State Fair, saying that after reviewing information from staff, seeking guidance from the Arizona Department of Health Services and analyzing all of the options, the Board voted unanimously to postpone the event due to COVID-19.
“As a self funded state agency, this decision to postpone the fair is not made lightly. In addition to providing the majority of the agency’s operating income, the Fair’s economic impact averages over $90 million annually, engages 300-plus businesses, and hires 1,000-plus employees. However, safety always comes first, and we feel this is the best decision for all involved this year,” said Jonathan Lines, chairman.
For 136 years, the Arizona State Fair has been an annual October tradition. In 2019, attendance hit 1,262,868, the highest in over a decade according to the Board. And the Fairgrounds, established in 1905, is also home to Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which opened over 50 years ago.
“This has been a deeply challenging decision for everyone,” said Wanell Costello, executive director. “While the fun and carefree environment the State Fair provides is appreciated by the community, we know this year it’s not the right time to hold a large event. The health and safety of our team, visitors and community is most important.”
Some Fair traditions may be hosted virtually. The livestock show, for instance, is accepting online entries. The Esports competition, which debuted at the 2019 Fair, has also launched with a series of virtual tournaments in partnership with the Arizona Lottery.
Tentative Fair dates for 2021 are Oct. 7 through Oct. 31. For updates, visit azstatefair.com.
Photos courtesy of Arizona State Fair